TOCRoSS: Table of Contents by Really Simple Syndication
Though much of a library’s budget is spent on acquiring
serials, in most libraries the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC)
contains only records for the journal titles, not the articles contained
within the journals. Users therefore have to carry out a two-step
search process. They search the OPAC for books and other resources and then
have to carry out a separate search for journal articles using electronic
secondary sources. This can mean that these valuable and expensive journal
resources are under-utilised.
Aims & Objectives
The aim of TOCRoSS was to see if RSS could be used to
automate the population of OPACs with details of journal articles, without
the need for manual cataloguing, classification or data entry. This could
improve the visibility and discoverability of journal articles and deliver
a more integrated OPAC experience to users. Objectives were
Extend the RSS 2.0 standard to encompass relevant
components of standards like ONIX for Serials or PRISM and publish the
resultant document in the public domain.
Use the extended RSS standard to provide a greater
level of automation of interoperability between the publisher and a
library through the integrated library system (ILS).
Deliver open source software components and XML
schemas, which will be freely available to the library, publisher, and
ILS supplier communities.
Produce a demonstration implementation of a service
using the standards and software as part of the project.
Report on the impact of this project for an academic
The project team decided t o use RSS 2.0 as the
standard on which to base the TOCRoSS feeds, as it is the simplest of the
various RSS standards and it is easy to extend using XML namespaces.
They worked with the NISO/EDItEUR joint working party
for ONIX for Serials SRN (Serials Release Notification) to extend this
standard to the article level (SRD or Serials Release Description). They
then used this work to extend RSS 2.0 to deliver highly flexible and
detailed information about journal tables of contents (TOCs).
An audit was carried out at the start of the project to
gather user requirements. This included interviews with vendors (both
content publishers and ILS suppliers) to discover their willingness/ability
to deliver to this standard. It also included interviews with
libraries to discuss their requirements from publishers, their current
situation, and their perceptions of any barriers to prevent them moving
Talis then developed a RSS feed listener server which passed the
information to a processor for the ILS that then produced MARC records for
each article. These MARC records were imported into a library OPAC
(University of Derby). TOC data for 160 journals (3,000
articles) was imported into the OPAC,and user
testing was conducted to assess the impact.
Users could search the OPAC and discover records for journal articles (as
well as the usual records for books and other materials) and link to the
full text. Details of all the project work are
included in the final report.
ONIX for Serials SRN (Serials Release Notification) 0.9
ONIX for Serials SRD (Serials Release Description)
The project deliverables have been released under a GPL
license and are available on SourceForge in the TOCRoSS project area (http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/tocross).
TOCRoSS Publisher Starter Kit – to assist other
content publishers create TOCRoSS standard RSS feeds
TOCRoSS listener server source code and tools – to
assist in developing content services based on the TOCRoSS feeds, whether
for a library OPAC or any other application
Sample TOCRoSS RSS feeds illustrate how a complete feed
TOCRoSS demonstrated that it is possible to automate the
inclusion of TOCs from a publisher into a library OPAC. TOC data for
160 Emerald journals (3,000) articles was pushed using RSS into the Talis
PRISM OPAC at the University of Derby library. Searches on keywords
retrieved journal articles, and users were able to link through to and view
the full text article. Librarians and end users tested the service,
and feedback was on the whole positive about the inclusion of article
records in the library OPAC. Concerns were raised about the management of
the data once it had been imported into the OPAC (quantity of data, impact
on system performance, changes in ownership of journals between publishers,
etc) but these concerns were mainly outside the scope of the TOCRoSS
TOCRoSS was conceived as a standards-based technology
for enabling Web 2.0 (or Library 2.0) applications. It has successfully
demonstrated that it is able to achieve this role by updating TOC data in a
library OPAC. It should therefore also be possible to use it for other
applications. One obvious example of this is to offer a unified alerting
service from a single service provider using content items from many
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